The Morgan Report Blog

Why the State Can’t Stop Paper Airplanes or a Pussy Riot.

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Looking at how “states”, compared to individuals around the world seem to have gained the upper hand, the idea of our holding onto more than a small amount of freedom and privacy may at first appear hopeless. Take for example, Mexico’s implementation of biometric ID this year for every resident, China’s planned surveillance by facial recognition for all its 1.3 billion citizens, and Google’s soon-to-have ability to monitor every square foot of the earth via real-time micro satellite.

But what to think when an authoritarian state – in this case Russia – feels so threatened that it must arrest people for flying paper airplanes, and engaging in a “pussy riot”?

First to define some terms. The reader probably already has an idea of what “the state” is – all of them arguably being variations on the theme of an entity exercising substantial control over its citizens, and taxing them so as to redistribute the proceeds to selected groups and get re-elected, thereby enabling politicians so-favored to continue “serving the people”.

Then there’s the paper airplane “issue”. That’s the symbol for Telegram, the world’s ninth most popular mobile messaging app, whose active user base had as of March, exceeded 200 million people. Russia’s FSB Security Service wants to access users’ encrypted messages, so as to “guard against terrorist attacks”. Telegram has refused to comply with these demands, leading to an impasse with the Russian government.

CEO Pavel Durov posted a Tweet, which said, “Threats to block Telegram unless it gives up private data of its users will not bear fruit. Telegram will stand for freedom and privacy.”

In the process, according to Reuters, Telegram is getting ready to launch what may become the world’s largest initial coin offering (ICO), which has already attracted $1.7 billion during its pre-sales offering.

Paper airplanes, plus Pussy Riot, equals problems for the state. Pussy Riot, for those not into punk rock music, is a feminist rock group based in Moscow. With such provocative song/video titles as “Police State” https://tinyurl.com/y9fxn3yg , “Putin Lights up the Fires” and “Make America Great Again”, the group was getting a bit of attention even before its current fling at creating an “air force”.

The crunch came when activists stood outside Russia’s Federal Security Service headquarters and began making/flying colored paper airplanes – the image of the iconic Telegram logo – as a show of support.

As noted at bitcoin.com, Telegram’s Founder, Pavel Durov wrote on April 22, “If you live in Russia and support free internet, fly a paper plane from your window at 7 PM local time today. Please collect the airplanes in your neighborhood an hour later – remember, today is Earth Day. My thanks to all the members of the #Digitalresistance movement. Keep up your great work setting up socks5-proxies and VPNs and spreading them among your Russian friends and relatives. They will be needed as the country descends into an era of full-scale internet censorship.”

The upshot of all this was that Pussy Riot activist Maria Alyokhina was arrested and sentenced to 100 hours of community service (picking up paper airplanes?), because of her high-altitude support of the Telegram messaging app – which continues, at this writing, to function in Russia, even though the state claims to have blocked almost 18 million IP addresses. Bitcoin.com displays a video here: https://tinyurl.com/yc5on6ef

We’ve been treating this demonstration against Russia’s “need” to read encrypted Telegram emails it feels might pose a danger to society…or to itself, in a rather light-hearted manner. But in reality, this incident brings into focus some serious ideas for discussion by people around the globe. One could even go so far as to ask,

Is the nation-state concept on the way out?

Doug Casey thinks so, and he’s not alone. He refers to the smaller entities that could evolve, based upon shared interests and values, as “phyles”. But whatever they end up being called, they could become a whole lot more functional and flexible in bending the way most people would like to live, than what passes for benevolent government as it now stands. As Doug remarked recently,

“…they’ll offer all the benefits that nation states offer today but they’ll necessarily do a much better job, because they’re private, voluntary, and cohesive. More and more people will discover who their real countrymen are. You’ll find out who you really want to associate and ally yourself with. And it won’t be people who just so happened to have been born in the same area as them, many of whom you have nothing in common with except proximity or government ID.”

And the blockchain revolution – sometimes referred to as “Internet 2.0”- is going to be a prime driver of these changes. Digitalized business and legal contracts. Selling of goods and services. Even cryptographic “money” backed in physical by its historic ancestors which have long served in that role, gold and silver.

On the surface it might seem like the nation-state will always be with us in its present form and power structure. But if the counter-play discussed above between Russian bureaucrats and a few punk rockers flying paper airplanes in protest of Internet censorship tells us anything, it may just be that the vaunted power of the former is actually quite brittle.

If a loosely-organized Pussy Riot can cause a powerful state such consternation, imagine what a quiet revolution – carried on, by first thousands, then hundreds of thousands, next millions, and finally billions of people around the globe, operating in their own self-interest as they live peacefully and productively with those around them – might accomplish. Stay tuned…

 

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